MLB return is on life support as negotiations continue to be a “disaster”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and MLBPA
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

MLB · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

As recently as a few days ago, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred guaranteed there would be a 2020 season. Fast word to Monday and suddenly there appears to be little chance of one happening.

Negotiations between the league and its players have proved futile from the start, but it had been assumed that in the event of a perpetual impasse Manfred would step in and make an executive decision calling for a 50-game season with players earning 100 percent of their prorated salaries. Now, though, it sounds like Manfred is unable to solve the strife between the league and the players association.

“Disaster for our game”

“The owners are 100 percent committed to getting baseball back on the field,” the commissioner commented. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that I’m 100 percent certain that’s gonna happen…. I’m not confident. I think there’s real risk; and as long as there’s no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue.”

Despite such a high risk—of losing an entire MLB season—there is a real and terrible possibility that the higher-ups will not be able to reach an agreement.

“It’s just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it,” Manfred admitted. “It shouldn’t be happening, and it’s important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans.”

If…

If the game does somehow get back on American baseball fields in 2020, the season would probably run from late July through October. Teams would likely play 50 regular-season games and the playoffs would remain with 10 qualifiers instead of the proposed expansion to 16. Players are willing to see the playoffs run through September, but owners do not want to risk (there’s that word again!) having the most important part of the season—especially from a revenue standpoint—cancelled by a potential second wave of the coronavirus. Owners are especially keen to generate revenue through postseason broadcasts since they would lose so much with no fans allowed to enter their ballparks.

Speaking of a possible postseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers are +375 favorites to win the World Series. They are followed by the New York Yankees (+450), Houston Astros (+1200), and Minnesota Twins (+2000). Those top teams especially want to get back on the field for a shot at a title.

The players want to play. The owners want as much money as possible in their pockets. Those two events may not be able to coexist.

“Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told players and fans that there would ‘100 percent’ be a 2020 season,” MLBPA executive Tony Clark noted, “he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season. Any implication that the players association has somehow delayed progress on health and safety protocols is completely false.”

If (there’s that word again, too!) the 2020 MLB campaign happens, be sure to check out our daily MLB expert picks.

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